World in a Peanut
This workshop attempts to solve the problem of containing the sprawling complexity of the contemporary environmental movement into a single workshop. This complexity if evident in the fact that environmentalists attend to the diverse systems that comprise eco-systems as they function on macro and micro scales within biotic and abiotic realms in the past, present, and future. To isolate any component distorts the interconnections and multiplicity of the material environment. Furthermore, isolating tends to minimize the consequences of human behaviors. The solution proposed by this workshop involves selecting a compelling metaphor to represent all human interactions with materials. In this instance each participant is given a single peanut and then guided through a series of exercises in which humanity’s functional relationships with the material world are identified: resource, medium, and tool. The peanut then provides opportunities for participants to examine personal relationships with the material world: sentiment, nostalgia, fear, and dependency. In sum, the interactions with a peanut introduce patterns of behavior that can be applied to all material interactions. It is hoped that this intense scrutiny and self-reflection will help establish behaviors that assure the long-term vitality of Earth systems.
Two – three hours
If the Earth’s water supply was imagined as 100 bottles, 97 would be filled with salt water, 2 would be filled with frozen freshwater, and only one bottle would be drinkable fresh water. All rivers, lakes, streams, and marshes comprise less than 1% of earth’s total freshwater supply. Nonetheless, contemporary life styles and means of manufacture often squander and pollute that meager supply of potable water. “Water Wonders” reasserts water as a precious resource. It invites participants to reverse their cultural norm by exploring the wondrous attributes of water. Activities focus on water’s aesthetic characteristics, its physical versatility, and its life-sustaining functions. The participants engage with these diverse themes by creating original works of art. Throughout the workshop they are encouraged to expand the definition of collaboration beyond creative exchanges among humans. In this context collaboration also applies to creative exchanges with the inherent characteristics and behaviors of ice, water, steam, etc.
 Environmental Science Fair Projects, Thomas Rybolt and Robert Mebane, Enslow Publishers, UK and Bereley Heights, NY!!! www.enslow.com
Elaborating on Collaborating – ECOcentric Creativity
Three – five hours
Eco-centric’ is a new word that revises prevailing cultural norms that are technologically dependent, materially driven, and personally motivated. Switching prefixes from ‘ego’ to ‘eco’ diverts awareness from personal interests and toward ecological inclusiveness. In this workshop we explore collaboration as the paradigm for ‘eco-centric’ creative activities. Simple drawing exercises will invite participants to replace creative actions that are self-centered with those based upon relationships. In this manner the creative act honors interactions and relationships that are fundamental to ecosystems. Some activities will foster creative interactions among humans. Others will explore creative interactions with the non-human realm.
Three – five hours
During the workshop participants activate numerous distinct creative processes that have been culled from the twentieth and twenty-first century cultural contexts. They are applicable to practitioners of all of the arts disciplines. They include solo versus collaboration, inspiration versus premeditation, chance versus predetermination.
Art and Collaboration
Three – five hours
Making art can be a lonely pursuit. Such conditions are aberrant within human history. We have always been social beings. Even prior to the era of global exchange and impersonal markets, humans depended upon social exchanges to maintain their lives. It was through cooperation that they gained shelter, food, warmth, water, and transportation. Conviviality was more than a functional affair. This workshop explores ways to dissolve the boundaries isolating the self from other humans, and also from the impingements of the environment.
Crafting Your Artistic Identity
Three – five days
Self-knowledge is derived from the inside out (sensations) and from the outside in (observations). Each day students conduct exercises and create art projects that manifest a particular component of their personalities. The week culminates when students assemble these partial studies into a comprehensive portrayal of their unique artistic selves. The categories include the following forms of identity: physical fact, self-assessment, physical context, human relationships, material possessions, public self, alter ego, reflected self, professional self, aspiring self.
Strategies for a Sustainable Society
Environmentalists commonly report that the manner in which contemporary humans interact with the material world will determine the fate of the entire planet – its climate, populations, and productive capacity. In this workshop, participants activate the implications of this supposition. They are guided through a series of exercises with a single peanut that serves as a metaphor for the vast, evolving, complex ‘environment’ with which each person interacts. The workshop explores relationships that are personal and emotional, and contrasts them with relationships that are detached and objective. It examines the critical environmental implications of both forms of relationship.